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Continuing our theme of nominated films, I decided to go with "The Shape of Water" next. This romance is quite the peculiar one. I really enjoyed Elisa’s (Sally Hawkins) personal journey throughout the film. Unable to speak, Elisa lives an isolated, lonely life, until one day she finally meets “someone” and they fall in love. That someone turns out to be a high security, classified “experiment” of the amphibious kind. When his life is in danger, she enlists the help of her endearing friends, Giles (Richard Jenkins) and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) to save him. This quiet, meek little lady suddenly goes all “I am Woman, Hear me Roar!” and hardly bats an eye facing every obstacle in the way of being with her lover, including the scary Strickland (Michael Shannon).
What I love about this film is that it’s an ode to the bravery of underdogs. The ones who are overlooked, yet completely underestimated when it comes to getting what they want. In Elisa’s case, hell hath no fury like a woman in love. But there are other ways to be brave than taking on the US Government. Bravery might be asking your boss for a raise or talking to the cute guy/girl at the bar. It’s revealing your true self or passions, even if it means losing support from the people closest to you. It’s standing up to a superior who’s doing something wrong. These are tough situations because being brave forces us to be vulnerable.
One of my favorite authors, Brené Brown, talks extensively about vulnerability. She mentions that while we may want to avoid it, we forget that it also is a pathway to “joy, creativity, authenticity and love”** A hero’s journey in a movie usually involves an encounter with their deepest fear, rendering them completely vulnerable. But when they become brave and face it, they are graciously rewarded for it.
I came out at the age of 21. It was scary at the time to think I could possibly lose all my family and friends, but there was no way I could continue living a lie. I just wanted to be happy. So I faced my most vulnerable moment and I have to say, things turned out just fine for me. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but the best part was opening myself to more opportunities of joy, authenticity, creativity and love than I ever thought possible. I would have lost out on all that had I never braved the unknown. So, whatever your situation, be brave and take a chance on vulnerability. It’s so worth it.
I’ll let you find out yourself how it all works out for Elisa and friends. Until next time, let these questions swim around in your head:
How does being vulnerable feel to you?
Is there a current situation that requires you to be vulnerable?
What’s a brave or vulnerable moment you’ve had in your life?
How did you benefit from this moment?
How can that moment help guide you in your current situation?
**The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage by Brené Brown